Equator Gringos

October 31, 2008

A Glimpse of the Future

Filed under: Ecuador — lstollin @ 9:39 pm

resized-IMG_2316 frame1When I was a kid, we got the first Japanese car in our little borough in Pennsylvania: a Datsun.  One of the ways my dad likes to wax nostalgic is to apologize over and over for making my brother Bruce and I ride in the back of that tiny two-door 1200.  But hey, we were kids, we didn’t know we were supposed to mind, and at least it smelled a lot better than our old Dodge Dart whose previous owner was clearly a cigar smoker.

As they might say in Jersey, we didn’t know from harbingers.  That little white Datsun portended the eventual domination of Japanese cars in the US.  Now, for the last ten years, we’ve been seeing Korean cars — Kias and Hyundais, and just like it went down with Japanese cars, the conventional wisdom WAS that they were junk, and the conventional wisdom IS that they are getting better and better.  There are also Daewoos and I just learned down here about SsangYongs, all from Korea.  So get ready for more Korean Cars.

But the big news for me was Cinascar – the dealer here in Quito of Chinese-made cars.  All kinds – trucks, pickups, SUVs, minis.  I’m including some pictures from their billboards.    

The red truck I see often walking home from school.  It features that very practical hinged sidewall design that you used to see on the Volkswagen pickup, where the sides as well as the tailgate can fold down. Not to mention the tie- down hooks all the way around, like every pickup should have and hardly any pickups in the US do anymore.

resized-IMG_2317resized-IMG_2318 resized-IMG_2319 There seem to be at least four automakers in China, Chery, ZXAuto, Changhe, and Great Wall Motor.  Each of these companies can be found on wikipedia as well, which is where I found the links to their web sites.

IMG_2323 frame2 If you happen to follow the links above to the manufacturers’ English-language web sites, you can appreciate that the immense differences between the Chinese and English languages, as well as the newcomer status of Chery and the other companies to the English-speaking market, are bound to lead to some interesting phrasings on these companies’ websites, and I love to go looking for these.  Here’s one from Chery, regarding their V5 station wagon:

V5, a combination of the functions of SUV.MPV and cars is a breakthrough in auto market, a mixture of multi-styles that leads the unique auto culture.
       ROOM: roomy space that carries styling life
       HOME: family use, enjoying happy life together
       TEAM: colleagues, clients and friends assemble in the vehicle.

Another example: a popup chat window on the ZXAuto page asks, “What can I help you?”  We can all have a chuckle at that, but we dismiss these automakers at our peril:  Wikipedia says Chery is working with the Ferrari/Lamborghini designers, Bosch for transmissions, their engines already meet the tough Euro emissions standards, and their painting facilities and manufacturing processes are state of the art.  They were hoping to have cars in the US by this year, but the agreements fell apart. It’s just a matter of time before these cars start making Kias and Hyundais look good, and then start looking good themselves.

Ten years from now I’ll be able to say I told you so.


1 Comment »

  1. You should be writing advert copy for the Chery – thanks for all your research!

    Comment by Bettye Kelso — November 15, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

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